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Is driving under intoxication a misdemeanor or a felony?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2021 | DWIs

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a common cause of accidents in Kentucky and across the country, and such action could result in criminal charges. Depending on the situation, this crime is either charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Apart from affecting your driver points, a DUI charge affects your driver’s license status and insurance rates. In extreme cases, you may face a jail term if found driving under intoxication.

When is DUI a misdemeanor charge?

When compared to felony charges, misdemeanors are less serious crimes that will not warrant you prison time. However, you can face some jail time, probation or a fine. DUI is a misdemeanor when you are a first-time offender with no aggravating circumstances. Most people arrested for DUI are charged with misdemeanors.

When is DUI a felony charge?

DUI laws are different in every state. However, certain circumstances will typically warrant you a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor. They include the following:

  • Injuring or killing a person when you are intoxicated is a felony. Nevertheless, when the accident is not the intoxicated driver’s fault, they are charged with a misdemeanor.
  • Some states will charge you with a felony when your blood alcohol level is elevated. The legal DUI limit in most states is 0.08. If your blood alcohol content exceeds 0.16, you will most likely have a felony charge.
  • If you are arrested for DUI under a suspended license, you will be charged with a felony DUI.
  • Depending on the state, your DUI charge will be elevated to a felony charge if you have prior convictions.
  • Many states will charge you with a felony DUI if you have children as passengers. The penalties are higher with children below 15 years old.

A DUI arrest is serious whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Upon arrest, consult your attorney as soon as possible for further guidance.